Let’s face it, New Year’s Resolutions don’t have the best of reputations. An embarrassing number of people give up on their resolutions within a week, much less a month, and hardly anyone cares past that same time span.
But I care.
I’m a little bit obsessed with setting goals and attempting to tackle them. Blogging, itself, is generally on my list of things I wish I did more, along with all forms of writing and reading, and most forms of exercise.
I make goals that I fail at, all the time.
It is, in my opinion, a key part of making goals that I succeed at. As business leaders love to say, fail early, and fail often – and fail cheaply, while you’re at it. By failing, we learn what doesn’t work, and we can modify the plan as necessary, failing in successive iterations, until someday, finally, things work.
By failing at my blogging goals, and setting new ones, this site has come into existence. I’d really like to write something for my blog that I consider worth sharing on Medium, so in the process of writing better stuff, I need to write a lot of less-good stuff to practice and build on and edit. By failing at my journaling goals, and setting new ones, I’ve developed a reliable habit to help support my emotional health.
Part of what I’ve learned is what sort of goals work for me. “Journal every day” is, for example, much less effective than, “journal at least 500 words every day, preferably first thing in the morning, but in the evening is better than not at all. Oh, and no Netflix ’til the writing is done.”
I like keeping track of data, especially that I can make pretty graphs and charts out of, so tallying my words written every day by type is actually quite satisfying for me. Plus, it forces a sense of accountability – the chart displays exactly when I failed to reach my goal, but also shows when I succeeded – and it allows me to track trends and figure out patterns.